Issue 108 - May 1998
Say 'university rowing' and Oxford and Cambridge immediately spring to mind. Push a little harder, maybe Nottingham and London? There are, in fact, nearly 50 universities with at least one rowing club, and remember some universities like Oxbridge have college clubs, women's clubs and lightweight clubs as well. The aim of Regatta's annual survey is to give you a little more information about your potential new rowing club when you are making that important decision on where to go for the next three or four years to study.
Do you aim to be a junior international or do you fancy a bit of messing about in boats? At one end of the scale Nottingham point out that they are British University champions from 1994 to 97 with 'members also at the world under 23 champs' and Reading, who are similarly upbeat, tell us, 'RUBC has the best potential ever: junior international oarsmen, under-23 development centre, new director of rowing, continually improved facilities, and Arthur Anderson sponsorship. The University of Surrey wrote, 'We are a small university so our club is small, but friendly,' while Staffordshire tell us they have bought an eight this year and are buying more boats: 'We are one of the smallest uni clubs with the worst facilities and no coaches =AD still, from tiny acorns mighty oaks grow.'
The general picture is reliance on sharing, with 62% of the respondents sharing either facilities, boats, or both with another club. The University of London added on their survey 'many, many use our boathouse', confirmed by City University. Manchester and UMIST both claim ownership of their shared facilities. The University of Hertfordshire share facilities with Broxbourne RC who apparently restrict them to Wednesday and Sunday afternoons but say 'although we have only two boats, only train twice a week on the water, we are a very competitive club.' The University of Kent share with Deal but their secretary claims to have never seen anyone from the Deal club. Last year saw more university clubs entering both university and national championships, nine clubs sending crews to the latter to compete at this level. Entries from universities for Henley Royal remain constant whilst the Women's Henley entry has increased. Entries for the Head of the River appear to be down, according to responses to the survey. Durham are trying to raise substantial funds through a memorial trust set up in memory of Eric Halladay which they hope will lead to a professional coach.
The social side of the club is obviously important to most of these clubs and I am pleased to say Staffordshire is still sponsored by the local Firkin pub. Hull write, 'socially, if not on the water, our club is very active.' Bath point out that they have 'impromptu socials most weeks due to the fact we are drunken students' whilst York say 'We love socials. Very social club.' Reading, having told us about their success on the water, want to remind us, 'we do have a laugh as well.' All the clubs have some form of formal dinner except City and Hertfordshire.
Wherever you choose, don't forget to check that your potential new club is on a direct train line home, so your mum can wash your kit once a term as before!
© Copyright Alice O'Brien, 1997.
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